Grass fed beef is different from the majority of beef products we find in our grocery stores. The difference is that the beef is only raised on grass, not grain. Ok, the cattle eat grass and not grain, what’s the big deal about that? Well the reason beef raised on pastures eating grass is better than beef from factory feedlots that are fed grain is surprisingly clear.
First off, let’s take a step back and take a brief look at our history. For ages, man has existed as hunter gatherers. They ate what they found, foraging for food and hunting animals. The animals they hunted lived off of grass, unless it was some kind of lion. So animals from the wild existed on the native grasses and plants of their surroundings. Their biological makeup evolved around their environment and they were well suited to digesting and processing plant matter; and they were very happy doing just that, eating grass all day. And we as hunters were very happing eating them.
As time went on we domesticated animals as a food source and planted crops so we could stay put in one place and not have to constantly be on the move hunting and foraging. Way back then, and for many of years, the diet of those domesticated animals was still primarily grass.
Things were good, but fast forward to today. Now we have in many instances cattle packed into feedlots and fed grains, mainly corn. Their highly evolved digestive tract was never meant to thrive with just grains, and certainly they were never designed to live in confined areas – shoulder to shoulder at a trough. But that is what we have today. What has suffered is the quality of life for the cattle. More importantly we find that quality of the meat available nowadays is poorer in nutrition and effecting our health negatively.
This leads into the top 10 reasons why grass fed beef is superior to regular grain fed beef.
- Grass fed cattle are free-range, and raised in open pastures, not in feedlots that are more unsanitary. Disease is not an issue on the open range compared to the feedlot where disease can spread quickly. As a result, there is no need for antibiotics because the animals are healthier with better immune systems.
- Grass fed beef commonly does not contain synthetic hormones. This is a result of the rancher knowing they are raising quality meat and not wanting to taint their product.
- The cattle are raised in a natural setting and not fed corn or grains. In today’s world the majority of animal feed has been genetically modified. Believe it or not, but research published in 2012 from Caen University in France show that animals fed a lifetime of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) in this case corn, have a much higher rate of cancer and tumors, and have a shortened life span- this can’t be good for us to eat.
- The beef has a higher amount of vitamins and minerals. A study done by USDA and Clemson University researchers in 2009 proves this among many other facts listed below. One example is Vitamin E. Grass fed beef usually has up to 7 or 8 mcg/gram of Vitamin E compared to 1 to 2 mcg/gram in grain fed beef.
- Grass fed beef is lower in saturated fats which has been linked to heart disease.
- It is higher in beta-carotene.
- It is higher in thiamin and riboflavin (Vitamin B’s)
- It has a higher mineral content including calcium, potassium and magnesium.
- It is a better source for Conjugated Lineolic Acid (CLA). CLA has been proven to improve the immune system and has also been connected with reducing the risk of obesity, cancer and diabetes.
- It has higher amounts of Omega 3 fats. These fatty acids are essential for brain function and optimal health. Studies show that grass fed beef contains up to 7 times the amount of Omega 3s compared to regular grain fed beef.
Grass fed beef is all around healthier than its grain fed counterparts, and there is also a difference in taste. The beef does not taste like what we are used to. The key here is eating premium grass fed beef that tastes delicious, in this way we get beef that tastes great and is healthier for us at the same time. One excellent source of grass fed beef is Teton Waters Ranch which raises their cattle on the native grasslands of Idaho next to the Teton Mountains.
Rich Coffman lives on the front range of Colorado and writes for Teton Waters Ranch.